Calendars with Island character will help make 2013 a good year

— Photo courtesy of Lanny McDowell

There’s a whole big shiny New Year in front of us, and we’ll have to keep track of it. What better and more colorful way than with a home-grown Vineyard calendar? There are plenty of pretty, cute, inspirational, and even silly calendars out there. But welcoming each new month with a photo by one of our talented Island neighbors makes turning the page a special occasion, not a mindless chore.

Peter Simon has been creating The Vineyard Calendar for 25 years now and nobody does it better. A well-known and accomplished photographer of places and personalities on the Vineyard and far beyond, Mr. Simon keeps his focus close to home for this much-anticipated annual publication.

He has an uncanny talent for conveying not only the visual image of a place but its atmosphere and feeling as well. We feel the chill and wind in a stark West Chop landscape as snowflakes splatter the lens, just as we soak up the warmth as the clay cliffs at Moshup Beach glow in golden sun. Mist suffuses the air and softens the springtime sun as it rises over West Tisbury’s Mill Pond. The August shot of bathers crowding the Oak Bluffs beach as the ferry glides in perfectly evokes the happy hubbub of a Vineyard summer day.

One of Mr. Simon’s calendar trademarks is printing reflections from 12 local writers each year to pair with the photos. This year these contributors range from Joni Mitchell to Richard North Patterson, Gazette calendar editor Bill Eville, and two Times regulars, Whit Griswold and Brooks Robards.

A poet as well as being a film and arts writer, Ms. Robards writes of July: “Open all windows wide past fat-petaled flowers singing of summer’s blaze in leafy pink bouquets….” Her words are aptly placed beneath a view of Edgartown Harbor in brightest summer, a bank of lush pink hydrangeas front and center.

Whit Griswold gets it right with a wise double negative, an abiding truth about our Vineyard surroundings: “There’s never nothing worth noticing out there,” as Menemsha is seen across a glassy harbor at dusk.

Lisa Vanderhoop and her cavorting canines are at it again in the 2013 Vineyard Seadogs Calendar. Each year this photographer captures more and more of our best four-legged friends making the most of Island living near, on, and in the water. Purebreds and mutts, puppies and elders, big, rangy dogs and tiny fluffy ones set a good example for all of us about enjoying life in our seaside home. This is certainly the right message for any new month!

Malamute Trav Sturgis welcomes us into January as he takes a rare respite, sitting on the beach at Owen Park as the moon rises over the water. March is puppy time with a mischievous brood of French Mastiff and Pit Bull mix babies lined up on the Squid Row bench, their dad Judah resting beneath.

On a perfect May afternoon Chris Murphy and his yellow Lab Lily take a leisurely cruise around Menemsha Harbor.

There are fluffy papillons at the beach, two gorgeous long-haired German Shepherds romping in the Aquinnah surf, a spirited Schnauzer waiting to play.

and Amos, a dog close to Ms. Vanderhoop’s heart, shown on happy fishing trips.

Three more full pages packed with small portraits of dog after irresistible dog attest to the fact that Vineyarders love their seadogs.

Ms. Vanderhoop also picks evocative quotes for every month, some inspirational, some to bring a smile, all nurturing food for thought as we journey into the coming year.

Last and littlest but definitely not least, the compact “Wildlife of Martha’s Vineyard Calendar” is back with its tenth edition. Penny Uhlendorf designs, publishes, and assembles this calendar printed on recycled paper. Net proceeds benefit Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.

Every year Ms. Uhlendorf gathers work from a variety of local nature photographers, professional and amateur, showing views of wildlife from one end of the Island to the other. There is nothing better than viewing a bird or insect or forest animal at the beginning of each month to remind us of the importance and preciousness of all living things. Each photo is accompanied by a short description or comment from various Vineyard nature writers.

Sadly missing this year are photos by nature lover and wildlife photographer Julian Robinson who passed away in February. Mr. Robinson’s delight in catching and documenting a surprising or long awaited glimpse of a bird or creature was evident in his photos.

But a bevy of enthusiastic photographers take up their cameras and follow in his tradition, looking for that unexpected encounter. This year a total of 10 photographers have contributed work.

Jeff Bernier finds an American Oyster Catcher with long orange beak snuggling with its chicks amidst State Beach dune grass. Speaking of chicks, the feathery puff of a plover toddler in Aquinnah by Albert Fischer makes it abundantly clear how fragile these tiny beings are.

On Chappy, an iridescent Luna Moth glows green in Skip Bettencourt’s photo. Natalie Woodruff captures a perky Belted Kingfisher; Sarah Mayhew shows us a Purple Sandpiper on a clump of seaweed in swirling Menemsha water. Bill Ewart got close enough to an Eastern Cottontail bunny to show him munching grass, and Matt Pelikan’s Pine Tree Spur-Throated Grasshopper is seen in perfect detail, soft green and striped against a fern leaf.